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Re: orion Orion: Commentary on Nahum- "hanging alive upon a tree"
From: Rolf Furuli <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: email@example.com <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Wednesday, December 31, 1997 7:33 AM
Subject: Re: orion Orion: Commentary on Nahum- "hanging alive upon a tree"
>Vernon Chadwick wrote:
><can one go as far to assert that crucifixion was an approved method of
><punishment according to Jewish law during the first century bce?
><I ask this because it seems that there is no consensus amongst scholars on
><this matter; some assert that the act of crucifixion was forbidden under
>It is important to define the word crucifixion before we discuss it. The
>instrument on which Haman was hanged is in Esther 5:14 (Hebrew) described
>as ("C, while the LXX has CULON and the Vulgate has CRUX. In 7:9 the Hebrew
>text has ("C, LXX has CULON but the Vulgate has LIGNUM ("piece of wood").
>The LXX uses, however in the same verse the verb STAUROW. In the NT,
>STAUROS and CULON are used for the instrument to which Jesus was fastened.
>The point is that neither the latin CRUX, from which we got the English
>"crucify", nor the Greek STAUROS indicate the shape of the instrument
>denoted or the manner by which a victim was fastened to it. Both words
>could just signify a stake or a piece of wood.
>The Anchor Bible Dictionary I 1207 defines "crucifixion" as "The act of
>nailing or binding a living victim or sometimes a dead person to a cross or
>stake (stauros or skolops) or a tree (xylon)." For Seneca (c.4 BC-65 CE) a
>"cross" could be different things. He wrote (Dialogue 6 (De consolatione ad
>Marciam) 20,3): "I see crosses there, not just of one kind, but made in
>many different ways; some have their victims with head down to the ground;
>some impale their private parts; others stretch out their arms on the
>gibbet.". In his comment on what happened at the time of the fall of
>Jerusalem in 70 CE, Josephus wrote (The War of the Jews, 5.11.1) : "The
>soldiers out of rage and hatred amused themselves by nailing their
>prisoners in different postures; and so great was their number that space
>could not be found for the crosses (plural of stauros) nor crosses for the
>bodies." Because of the huge numbers of bodies it is likely that for
>economical reasons they used one piece of timber for each one rather than
>If we use "crucify" in the "original" sense, encompassing all kinds of
>hanging or fastening to a stake of wood, we can say that crucifixion (with
>the victims killed before they were hanged) was an approved method of
>punishment according to the law. If we use "crucify" in the modern sense,
>we must say that it was not an approved method.
>University of Oslo
Thank you for your helpful comments. I do refer to the use of the word
'crucify' in its original sense and in direct reference to the Alexander
Jannaeus crucifixions and the parallel rendering of the event in 4Q169.